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Postcard from Abroad
Kate Finley in Tanzania

Posted August 1, 2007

Greetings from Tanzania! I am a legal intern in the Office of the Prosecutor at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in Arusha, Tanzania. The ICTR was established by the United Nations to bring to justice those most responsible for the genocide that took place in Rwanda in 1994.

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Food market in Gisenyi, Rwanda

I have been working mostly for the Government II team, which is prosecuting four former ministers in the Interim Government of Rwanda for their role in the genocide. The length of the trials is remarkable: The Government II case alone has been going on for four years.

My work here as an intern has involved some time in court and a lot of legal research, reviewing motions, and drafting witness summaries. My fellow interns and lawyers are a dynamic, international group. Each of the six attorneys on my trial team is from a different country, and it has been an interesting experience to compare notes on our respective national legal systems.  Most Fridays there are U.N. seminars—in the past few weeks I’ve attended workshops on international humanitarian law, prosecuting sexual violence, and the legal limitations on the use of force in conflict. 

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Lake Kivu, near the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo

One of the highlights of my summer has been a nine-day trip to Rwanda with two other interns. We spent part of the trip with some of our team’s trial attorneys in Kigali, the capital, and we also traveled around the country and visited many of the genocide memorials. On our second-to-last day we spent an afternoon observing a gacaca proceeding. 

Gacaca tribunals are based on the Rwandan traditional justice system in which members of the community actively participate in the adjudication process, with a strong emphasis placed on reconciliation. Gacaca tribunals are being used in addition to the national court system to bring to justice more than 50,000 genocide suspects who are currently in detention in Rwanda.  Upon returning to Arusha, it has been interesting to compare the gacaca courts with the work of the ICTR, and to consider the variety of different goals served by post-conflict justice processes. 

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Rwanda, the "Land of a Thousand Hills

All in all,  I am grateful to have had the opportunity to contribute to the important legal work being done here at the ICTR, to have met so many interesting people, and to have spent time living in beautiful Tanzania—it has been an amazing summer so far!

Kate Finley